Student-led BRAVE conference focuses on diversity, inclusion


Maria Shaughnessy

Students at the BRAVE conference watch a TED Talk at the assembly associated with it. The conference was an opt-in, day long activity that was completely student led.

Caledonia Abbey, Midway Reporter

Adults at the Laboratory Schools often create platforms to talk about social justice and identity-based issues, but students organized the Becoming Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference May 15, which provided a space to talk about race alongside people who are interested and willing to engage in conversation about these conflicts.

The first-ever conference was attended by 40 high school and 25 middle school students. According to Destiney Williamson, lead

Destiney Williamson, sophomore.

student organizer, the goal was to “help encourage discussions about race, and have a circle for people of color and allies to learn more about each other and ourselves.”

Following opening ceremonies and speaker Arji Markati, students attended three student-led workshops on topics from activities on privilege to discussions about the difference between racism and prejudice. 

“After two years at Lab, I decided I want to be a part of the discussion about social justice issues more actively,” sophomore Rithik Puri, a participant in the conference, said. “I’m hesitant to get involved in a discussion if I haven’t read up on it… so having this experience, to feel a little bit more versed in these issues, expands each of our abilities to talk about them in the future.”

Freshman An Ngo said attending the conference helped her realize “that many other students are thinking about the same things I am, in regards to their role and place in terms of diversity at Lab.”

After two years at Lab, I decided I want to be a part of the discussion about social justice issues more actively

— Rithik Puri, sophomore

The messages of race and diversity carried into lunch, catered by Chef Jonathan Rhodes. Rhodes studied at the Art Institute of Houston and uses food as means to encourage dialogue and cultural expression. The day concluded with closing remarks by writer, rapper and educator Nate Marshall

English teacher Hasham Bhatti and counselor Teddy Stripling advised the student organizers.